Cristiano Ronaldo reached out to Piers Morgan to conduct an interview that would air shortly before the World Cup began. During the interview, he spoke critically about his club, saying Manchester United has had “no evolution” since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. He also criticized Man U coach Erik ten Hag—claiming he has “no respect for him”—and had pointed comments toward ex-coach Ralf Rangnick and former teammate Wayne Rooney.
After the interview came out, Manchester United officials collected their thoughts while they planned their next move. And now, it looks like they know their strategy:
See if they can get rid of Ronaldo without paying him the rest of his salary.
The 37-year-old is under contract through June 2023. He’s set to make £500,000 ($593,376) per week, which means Cristiano’s interview may have just cost him $19 million. Man U already announced the club and player had parted ways by “mutual agreement,” and now they’ll try to get money back.
The club believes Ronaldo has breached the terms of his contract. Manchester United released a statement on November 18, just two days before the first World Cup match kicked off.
“Manchester United has this morning initiated appropriate steps in response to Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent media interview. We will not be making further comment until this process reaches its conclusion.“
If Man U is able to prove Ronaldo violated the contract terms, it could void part or all of the rest of the deal. Ronaldo, who has seen his playing time dip, told Morgan he feels betrayed by his club. Forfeiting $19 million would add to that betrayal.
For now, we know Ronaldo will be in another jersey in 2023. In the meantime, he’ll appear for Portugal in the World Cup.
He may not command as much money if he plays elsewhere in Europe. Bayern Munich and Sporting Libson have expressed interest, though he’d probably have to take a pay cut to join one of those teams.
Another option for Ronaldo? Look to play in another part of the world. He told Morgan he turned down a deal worth more than $356 million to play in Saudi Arabia.
So, maybe money isn’t the biggest issue here. Perhaps Ronaldo just wants to play for a coach who shows him respect and lets him get on the field. If he can find that, it could be worth giving up millions to stop wallowing in unhappiness at Man U.